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Aug. 11, 2008 – Important dealer, OEM meeting scheduled in California

August 11, 2008
Filed under Columns

On Aug. 13, the California Motorcycle Dealers Association (CMDA) is scheduled to meet with OEM representatives at the California headquarters of the Motorcycle Industry Council. The purpose of the meeting is to determine if a nonlegislative solution to the dealers’ concerns regarding the distribution of product can be agreed upon.
The pending California legislation addresses and makes illegal a number of current practices employed by OEMs and distributors. If you look at the provisions of the bill one at a time, none of the practices by themselves seem to be all that onerous. When looked at in total, it is clear that what has evolved is a structure that shifts the burden of inventory from the distributor to the dealer.
While I have for a long time been critical of how motorcycles are distributed, I also have recognized that legislation is not the best way to correct the problem and bring about a process that allows a dealer to focus on the needs of his/her customers rather than be driven by what is crammed into the warehouse. Hopefully, the OEMs will come to the Aug. 13 meeting genuinely prepared to talk about and agree to needed changes. If no changes come about, the CMDA will have to choice but to proceed with the pending legislation.

THE BUYERS ARE STILL OUT THERE

I just had a call from a dealer commenting on my July 21 column. The gist of his comments was to support what I had written in the last issue. He had stopped focusing on all the bad news and had everyone focused on the people who did come into his dealership. Yes, there is more price competition. Yes, he has more credit turndowns than in the past. But what he accomplished was to expand the definition of a customer. He was struck with how simple it truly was. Greet everyone and provide a quality experience, then ask them to buy.
There is no easy answer. You do have to talk to more people to get the results. Follow up is more essential than in the past. The best operators in the business can only get a commitment from 30 percent of the customers to buy. We know from our call center experience that virtually 100 percent of showroom visitors say they do intend to buy, which may not be what the salesperson’s assessment was or even what the customer said. The best marketing opportunity for a dealer is the 70 percent who left without buying. They have an interest, they know where you are and hopefully they had a positive experience in your dealership.
Find a reason to invite them back, not grind them on the deal. Coach the salespeople everyday. Give them the list to call and what to say. There is always something new and something going on.

WE ARE NOT IN THE CAR BUSINESS

I was assisting my newest partner, Dan Desmond, interview a prospective sales manager. The prospect, who is currently in the car business, commented on how he was looking forward to talking to customers who were not completely defensive and argumentative. In our interview we stressed that our sales managers were front line and expected to be directly involved with the customers. Our people are here because they want to be here, having someone to talk to is never a problem on a motorcycle showroom.

SOS (Same ole stuff)

I’m sure that during the years every member of the 20 clubs I moderated got tired of me continually pounding on the basics. Every dealer came to the meeting with issues, but I refused to talk about them until we were clear on how many people came in and what we did with them. The reality of the business we’re in is we’re never short of urgent matters to deal with. Stay focused on what is really important: the front door. Today there are not fewer people who want what we have. You will have to talk to them more, but the good news is that they are really out there and dealers who are focused on it are proving it every day.
Cheers, Ed. psb
Ed Lemco has been involved with the powersports industry for more than 30 years. Lemco, the former owner of Lemco Management Group, is the founder and executive director of the National Council of Motorcycle Dealer Associations. Lemco currently operates a call center for dealers in St Croix.

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